Sheer Mag – A Distant Call
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Sheer Mag A Distant Call Sheer Mag LLC

Sheer Mag are a band you feel. Tina Halladay’s throaty roar makes you suddenly aware of the back of your neck; Kyle Seely plays his ninth consecutive mind-melting guitar solo and your face involuntarily screws up. Even listening to them at an office desk has the hysterical thrill of standing next to a PA and letting the vibration occupy your limbs. You air-drum a little.

A Distant Call, the Philly band’s second full-length, exemplifies their virtuosic proficiency, and sees them balance their 70s throwback sound with identity politics and personal concerns better than ever. Socially conscious in the tradition of their DIY punk community, Sheer Mag have always side-eyed the expectation that big, jocular sounds will necessarily accompany sentiments about snorting cocaine atop flaming piles of $100 bills. On this record they channel the electricity of cock rock through idiosyncrasy and vulnerability.

From the album’s opening yowl, the band’s derailed train energy matches the righteous fervour of Halladay’s lyrics: affirmations about fat bodies (The Right Stuff), condemnations of Trump (The Killer), a screed about workers’ rights (the deliciously-titled Chopping Block). As a result, A Distant Call, a sort-of concept record following one narrator through personal crisis, recognises and rails against the problems of our world. But ultimately – in its overall optimism – it believes in our ability to affect change, collectively and individually. It also fucking shreds.